Airlie Beach tourists keen to return, without Debbie

Cyclone Debbie: the aftermath, Wednesday March 29.
Cyclone Debbie: the aftermath, Wednesday March 29. Peter Carruthers

IT WAS Eric Suan's first cyclone experience but it won't scare him from coming back to Airlie Beach.

While the timing of his three day trip to the Whitsundays was far from ideal, he said he wanted to return in the future so he could experience everything he planned to do.

"I didn't get to do everything I wanted to, but I will definitely want to come back," he said.

"Maybe in a different season though."

While surrounded by panic, Mr Suan said he waited out the destructive winds in his hotel bathroom until Cyclone Debbie's wrath was over.

The aftermath of Cyclone Debbie is playing out in Airlie Beach with widespread devastation in full view.

People were queuing up on the main street to use the telephone box, with carriers like Optus still down.

Whole trees, branches, leaves and pieces of debris are littering the Airlie Beach landscape, interspersed with boats on rocks and damage to people's businesses and homes.

Beachworx owner Lyn Gregson said her main street business had fared worse than some of her other stores, with a partial ceiling collapse, structural damage and flooding.

Airlie Beach lagoon fared reasonably well, although tree branches were floating in the middle of the swimming area and sign posts had been torn asunder.

Massive waves smashed against the Airlie lagoon rock wall with bursts of water splashing about.

All Main Street business are expected to be closed for the rest of the week or until power returns to the area.

An army helicopter has just flown into Airlie Beach.

Topics:  airlie beach cyclone debbie tourism

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